Breaking News

Japan Goes Ninja on Unregistered Foreign Associates
Download PDF

Associates! The ninja are coming for you!Japan’s Federation of Bar Associations (Nihon Bengoshi Rengokai) has shaken up the island nation’s international legal community by declaring that all foreign lawyers, regardless of position, must be formally registered to practice.

Most foreign law firm partners are registered as gaikokuho-jimu-bengoshi, or gaiben, but the majority of associates and counsel are not.

The Federation says “even if a lawyer qualified in a foreign country who has not been registered as a registered foreign lawyer is not a partner, but an associate, assistant, adviser, consultant, of counsel or any person with another title or position, providing any service that is substantially a legal service will constitute a violation of Article 72 of the Attorney Act.”


To qualify as a gaiben, a lawyer must have practiced for at least three years, two of which have to have been outside Japan. The registration process can take anywhere from six months to two years.

In recent years, top law school graduates with strong Japanese language skills have been highly sought by foreign firms’ Tokyo offices, but such hires would be stymied by the gaiben overseas experience requirement.

Several partners with foreign firms in Japan said they doubted blanket registration was being proposed. They noted that the Japanese definition of practicing law generally meant a lawyer acting independently, so junior lawyers working under the supervision of a registered partner would probably continue to be exempt.

Get JD Journal in Your Mail

Subscribe to our FREE daily news alerts and get the latest updates on the most happening events in the legal, business, and celebrity world. You also get your daily dose of humor and entertainment!!

A spokesperson for the Japanese Bar group said it would release a further statement in the next few days.


Most Popular

Legal Career Resources

October 25, 2016 Law Firms Will Reject Attorneys Immediately for These 9 Reasons

  Summary: There are nine distinct reasons for why a law firm will cross an attorney off before even giving them the opportunity to interview. Read Why Law Firms Reject You to learn more. Getting a job with a law […]

read more


To Top